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Origin of the universe: Srimad Bhagavatam and the Big Bang Theory

Saturday, 05 January 2019 / Published in Articles / 43,066 views

By Brajahari das

In this article, I compare the origin of universe as described in the Srimad Bhagavatam (SB) and the Big Bang (BB) theory .

1. The initial state

According to SB, the initial state of matter immediately previous to its manifestation is called pradhāna (SB 3.26.10p). In the BB theory, this initial state is called the singularity. The table below compares these two states:

Pradhāna

SB 3.26.10p, SB12.4.20,21

Singularity

ref : [1]-[4]

*Unmanifested/undifferentiated form of matter.

*No manifestation of gross/subtle element (i.e. no space, air, fire, etc).

*No formation of matter or space.

*Undifferentiated, yet total material elements are contained therein.

*Void & No space.

Total matter in zero space=infinite density

*Contained all of the matter of the universe, condensed in an infinitely small point of zero space.

Total matter in zero space=infinite density        

*No manifestation of  cause/effect. No reaction of material elements.                

*All the laws of physics break down.

*No time.                

*time=0                

*Indescribable

                

*Cannot be described by any                mathematical/physical model. Defies our current understanding of physics & common sense.          

*Original substance, it is the actual basis of material creation.

*The origin of universe.

*No consciousness/soul

*N.A.

Table 1:  The comparison of pradhāna from SB and the singularity from BB.  All descriptions of pradhāna are almost verbatim from SB 3.26.10p & SB12.4.20,21. 

The table indicates a clear similarity between these two initial states. Both states, i.e. pradhāna and singularity, refer to a condition where no matter/space is manifested. Since, not even space is manifested, it is just an infinitely small point. SB describes it as void. Although no manifestation of matter/space, yet the total matter is contained and densely packed therein. It is a state where all physical laws break and thus beyond our ability to perceive.

2. In the beginning

According to both SB and BB, the process starts with introduction of time.

Srimad Bhagavatam

SB3.26.17, SB 2.5.22

Big Bang Theory

ref : [1]-[4]

Time is injected into the pradhana. The pradhāna (unmanifested matter) is agitated and it begins to manifest.Thus creation/activity begins.

Time starts and the process begins.

Cause: Time is injected by the glance of the Lord Mahavisnu.        

Cause: The cause for Bing Bang is admitted as unknown by modern science.1-3 

By glancing the Lord also injects souls with their respective karma.

N.A.

Table 2: Time causes the transformation of the initial state into manifested universe.

  1. “Events before the BB, are simply not defined, because there’s no way one could measure what happened at them… These had to be imposed on the universe by some external agency.” Stephen Hawking, The Beginning of Time [4].
  2. There are many speculative proposals regarding the origin of BB: quantum fluctuation, big bounce, multiverse, quantum gravity loop, M-theory, God etc. None of these has any evidence yet.
  3. There are various of interpretations quantum mechanics, e.g. The Copenhagen, Many World, Hidden Variable, de Broglie–Bohm, Von Neumann–Wigner, ect – on how matter takes a specific state. According to Von Neumann–Wigner interpretation, a conscious observation is required for matter to take a specific state. One criticism against this interpretation is: “there was no observer during BB”. The SB emphasizes on “the glance of the Lord over pradhana”. However, it is worth noting that none of these quantum interpretations has been accepted unanimously by scientists.[6]

3. Transformation of matter

According to SB, once time is injected, material nature is agitated and thus transformation begins. First, modes of material nature interacts, manifesting subtle and thereafter gross matter. In various sections of SB, the evolution of gross matter is presented consistently, i.e. space –>air –>fire –>water –>earth. The BB also agrees that with time the universe begins to evolve. BB is an empirical theory, based on methodology which deals only with gross matter. I have compared the transformation/evolution of gross matter in both the SB and BB, in the table below:

Srimad Bhagavatam

SB 2.5.25-29, SB 3.26.32-44

Big Bang Theory

ref : [1]-[4]

First: Interaction of the modes of material nature and manifestation of the subtle elements occurs.

N.A.

From false ego, the first of the five elements, namely the sky, is generated.        

First the universe expands exponentially from an infinitely small point creating space.

Because the sky is transformed, the air is generated.

As space expands, the universe cools down enabling formation of fundamental particles and eventually lighter atoms such as hydrogen & helium. Due to gravity, these elements clusters together in space forming gas clouds.  

When the air is transformed in course of time and nature’s course, fire is generated.

As the gas clouds become denser, gravitational collapse causes atomic fusion, and thus forming stars, which releases light and heat. This is the end of the “dark age of the universe” as the universe begins to have visible light.

Since fire is also transformed, there is a manifestation of water.

Within the core of the star, atomic fusion generates heavier elements such as carbon and oxygen (upto iron). When the star dies, it explodes (supernova) releasing these elements into space . Water is formed here, due the chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen. [5]

Thence the earth becomes manifest.

Due to gravity, exploded star dust further clusters together forming planets. In “earthly” planets geological/weathering process forms soil/earth.

Table 3: The transformation of matter in time.

Disclaimer : I compiled Table 3 based on my overall & limited understanding of SB. As the SB is very deep and large, there could be details that may either enhance, raise questions or invalidate these comparisons. However the individual details are accurate, and as such, I leave it to the reader’s discretion to make the comparison.

FAQ 

  1. Explosion only destroys, cannot create order.

Scientists generally consider “explosion” as a misnomer for BB, in the sense, there was no space to explode into. Rather, BB is an expansion of space from singularity, and evolution of matter thereafter. This is similar to the “agitation of pradhana” and transformation into manifested prakrti, with space being the first manifested gross element. In other words, “BB explosion” is similar to “agitation of pradhana” in SB. In fact, Srila Prabhupada had called the “BB explosion as “not theory, but fact”, and compared it with the “agitation of pradhana” (refer below).

  1. How can everything starts from nothing?

Pradhāna is also described as void (SB 12.4.20), and yet total matter is contained therein (SB 3.26.10). Similarly, the singularity is an infinitesimal point, containing total mass of the universe. Singularity/pradhāna is described as “nothing”/”void” as it has no space or manifestation of matter. Yet it contains total matter for the manifestation of the universe.

  1. Srila Prabhupada (SP) criticized BB as bogus.

SP did not reject, rather often points out the limitation of the theory. SP’s focus was to establish Lord Krishna as the cause of all cause. For example, in the following lecture, when SP was asked about the “BB explosion”, SP accepted it as “not just a theory but fact”, comparing it to SB, emphasizing on the cause:

“Explosion, yes. So they are seeing that explosion and the chunk, but they cannot explain how the chunk became exploded. …Material energy itself cannot explode. The explosion theory is there… Not theory, fact. But the total material energy, mahat-tattva, when it is glanced over by Mahā-Viṣṇu, then it becomes agitated, and the modes of material nature begins to act. So then these activities are executed by Mahā-Viṣṇu, by His glancing, simply by His glancing… So simply by glancing, He can agitate the material energy, and the creation begins.” Srila Prabhupada, Lecture CC Adi 01.12

Note that, SP’s arguments are in line with the limitations accepted by modern science :

  1. “Events before the BB, are simply not defined, because there’s no way one could measure what happened at them…These had to be imposed on the universe by some external agency.” Stephen Hawking, The Beginning of Time [4].
  2. “What caused the BB?Any answer to this problem must begin with a key realization: both time and space are contained within the universe and came into existence only after the BB occurred. The cause of the universe must not include them, they are not available to us. It must come from outside our experience.” [2]

  1. BB is based on many assumptions and could be proven wrong in the future.

This could be true. But the details in SB always remain as facts, independent of the BB.

  1. God personally creates the universe, magically by his mystic potencies. He does not use scientific rules/laws.

Material manifestation is taken care by the external energy of the Lord. i.e. material nature :

Bg 9.10 — This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, producing all moving and nonmoving beings. Under its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.

SB 2.10.45 — There is no direct engineering by the Lord for the creation and destruction of the material world. What is described in the Vedas about His direct interference is simply to counteract the idea that material nature is the creator.

Conclusion

I have compiled the origin of universe based on the SB and the BB theory. The BB theory is based on empirical science which could deal only with gross matter. As far as evolution of gross matter is concerned, both SB and the BB appear to be in good agreement. SB gives further information regarding subtle elements, consciousness as well as the supreme cause.

The cause for the BB is admitted as unknown by today’s science. Moreover, scientists believe that the cause must be beyond space and time, outside our experience and due to external agency [2],[4]. At present there are many speculative theories, i.e. quantum fluctuation, big bounce, multiverse, quantum gravity loop, M-theory, God etc. As far as science is concerned, the idea that God caused the BB, is just as speculative as the other theories. From scientific perspective, this idea does not carry any additional weightage, and contains similar pros & cons compared to the other theories.

However, here we find an ancient text, SB – giving knowledge consistent with a modern scientific theory. Note that, this BB theory is less than one century old and it was developed based on complex physics and using high-tech equipments. The state of singularity in BB, which is a prediction Einstein’s theory of general relativity and is beyond the ability of any human mind to grasp –  is strikingly similar to the state of pradhāna as detailed in SB. Doesn’t all these indicate the credibility of SB? Wouldn’t SB be a reasonably valid source to gain knowledge which are beyond the scope of empirical science?

Hare krshna.

         

I highly recommend the readers to watch the following short clips:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNDGgL73ihY 

http://www.deepastronomy.com/what-caused-the-big-bang.html

And read the following verses & purports:

http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/12/4/20-21

http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/3/26/10

http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/3/26/17

Reference for BigBang:

I have provided simple/non-technical references which can be easily understood:

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNDGgL73ihY 

[2] http://www.deepastronomy.com/what-caused-the-big-bang.html

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang, http://www.big-bang-theory.com/

[4] http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html

[5] http://witcombe.sbc.edu/water/physicsuniverse.html

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics

References from SB are given within the article.

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